Signs, signs: Friendship Mission

Errrrmm… hello, blog!

It’s been awhile, isn’t it? More than a month.

Aside from a personal issue, I also concentrated on work, preparing for the friendship mission between Cambodia and Singapore.

Signs Operation Smile Cambodia-Singapore Friendship Mission

So no blogs, no tweets, and no Facebook. I swear that after the personal issue has been resolved and that the last mission volunteer has left the country, I think that I shall never go back to my online activities again. But I imagine how much heartbreak it will cause to all my two avid readers, so …

I am back yet again.
Before I see any of you rolling your eyes… I know, I know… I’ve been saying this over and over but, hey, at least I’m not giving up entirely.


Signs, signs: Aesthetics

Eeeeek! I still haven’t published my draft posts. So sorry. I’m hoping this doldrums  is only temporary while I get involved again in our preparations for December mission. I really want to post about all the things I have been meaning to write about since the past — uhm, ten years? Just kidding. I thought I should post about my first OS medical mission in Poipet but my attention span these days is that of a two year old so — nada. I only got to post pictures of bits and pieces and places I encountered since I returned from our mission in Poipet. And here’s another bit…

Aesthetics, Khmer-style.
Aesthetics, Khmer-style.

This was taken in one of the streets in Poipet.

hand painted sign in cambodia

The dental clinic sign on the picture above is a pleasant change from the usual signs I see that shows chunky pliers plucking out teeth from open, scary-looking mouths (like the pic on the right). Instead, this one features toothy smile and luscious lips.

On the right side of the dental clinic is a photo studio that rents out traditional Khmer costumes (and make up for women!) and offer portraits. Most Cambodians couples about to get married go to photo studios to have their portraits taken wearing traditional clothes. With the colourful costumes and glittering accessories, the couples look like Khmer princes and princesses! Most of my expat friends have already done it, just for fun. It’s also a fun souvenir when you go back to your home country. I haven’t done this yet.


Signs, signs: Remnants of Old Japan

In 2006, I was invited by the Japanese NGO ACCU-EE to visit their country and participate in a conference for Environmental Educators. After the 5-day event, I didn’t return to Cambodia right away. I stayed for three more days to experience Japan for the first time.

During my extended stay, I chose a ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn)  in the historic Asakusa district of Tokyo. Not only that it is relatively inexpensive there (lots of ryokans, small hotels and and inexpensive hostels and dorms), but it is one of the few remaining places where you experience Tokyo of the olden days.

I went on a walking tour of  Asakusa alone. The weather was nice and cool, perfect for on-foot travel, and I wasn’t disappointed!

On my walks, I tried to avoid the huge crowd and walked the opposite direction. I found myself in Demboin-dori, a calmer, less-crowded street lined with amazing wooden shops.  I was told these traditional wooden shops (craft shops and restaurants) are centuries-old and was left as they were:

Signs Japanese traditional shops in Asakusa

Although I do not understand what’s written on them, I think the wooden signs and the exteriors are beautiful! And the interiors are even better.  As I was on a budget-trip, I restrained myself from getting some really great handmade Japanese souvenirs in one of these shops.


Signs, signs: Push

From Phuket, Thailand, my Signs, signs entry this week came all the way from Kathmandu, Nepal.
As you can see I am still in an arm-chair travel mode, unearthing old photos and reminiscing wonderful memories of my travel adventures, as a solo traveller or otherwise. But I digress.

When I was in Kathmandu for a conference a few years ago, the hosts treated the conference participants to a fancy dinner at the fancy Krishnarpan restaurant inside a fancy hotel. The hotel is called Dwarika Restaurant and, although my colleagues and I entered via a non-descript doorway, we were astounded by what we saw inside. Stepping inside it felt like I was in old world Nepal!

Dwarika Hotel is an amazing piece of property that was a product of a restoration effort spanning some three decades. The details in the hotel – the buildings and in every piece of furniture, pottery and other items there – were gorgeous pieces showcasing exquisite Nepali traditional architecture and arts. An example is this unique door handle of the restaurant – just a small detail yet it charms you right away!

Everything inside the Dwarika property feels luxuriously old-world. I especially love this door handle. I wish brought one back home for souvenir.

I would love to have a piece of Nepal in my own house! Don’t you?
I know I have the “Pull” photo as well but I could not find it as of this writing. I’ll post it if I find it just in time for next week’s Signs, signs meme.

Here’s a post I wrote about Experiencing Old World Nepal and more pictures of the hotel. Hope you enjoy it.


Signs, signs: Dead-end Beach

Still in Phuket…

I saw this sign while strolling along  Kata Beach just a few metres away  from the Kata Thani Beach Resort.

Signs, signs dead end beach

The resort was at the very end of a semi-secluded area with few hotels around; fewer still were the visitors at that time. The white, sandy beach was very inviting even though it was the onset of the rainy season in Thailand when I went there. What ruined a quiet walkabout, aka, beach-bumming, were the obnoxious touts that wouldn’t just leave you alone.


Signs, signs: Poster

Still in an arm-chair travel mode, I have another sign here taken in Phuket. Please bear with me as I think there are more posts about Phuket in the coming days, lol.

I love this sign… a traditional way to advertise movies way back when the world was younger. I was pleasantly surprised to find this in Phuket in 2008.

Back in the 80s I grew up in a small city in the Philippines where movie houses rent vehicles (that carry huge movie posters) and loud speaker systems to announce to the general public what movies are currently showing and will be shown next.

signs traditional movie ad in Thailand

It was a source of glee for most of us children, especially during summers when we’re out of school and on the look out for fun things to do. At the sound of the megaphones, we would ran out of our houses to see the passing vehicle and curious about the drawings on the poster. Then, as the sound faded, we girls excitedly chattered away dreaming about the movie stars (girl stuff!) while the boys mimicked what they saw on the poster. Oh what a joy. Such a simple life way back then.

While Hollywood spends massive amounts of money in promoting and advertising their films, most Asian countries like the Philippines and Thailand utilise traditional methods that doesn’t require lots of money spent. Only requires a bit of creativity and perseverance to go around the town.


Signs, signs: Fun

Since I am tied down to where am I right now and in the throes of a consultancy work, my husband and I have actually never gone away for holidays recently. Not that we don’t want to, it’s just that there’s always some reason that keeps us from going away at the very last minute.

So for now, while waiting (again) for the right time, let me just indulge in an armchair travel. So let’s continue with the sign from Phuket, Thailand… in Patong Beach.

Patong Beach is the busiest, most crowded, most popular beach in Phuket. I know, I’ve been there in 2008.

There is something to do for everyone that guarantees fun and excitement – food, spa, various recreational activities and shopping! The sign below grabbed my attention. It is just one of the many that I saw that are set into the footpath on the streets of Patong. To me, it evokes beach, sun, sand and a whole lot of fun. Don’t you think so?

signs patong beach

At night, the atmosphere is vibrant, pulsating, mesmerising. The kind that draws you in. However, in some parts of Patong, is another story. There’s another brand of fun (read: seedy) that goes on there. It actually puts off many tourists.


Signs, signs: Tsunami warning

I went to Phuket with my husband in 2008, nearly four years after the devastating tsunami that hit the island.

What happened there (and in Sri Lanka) in 2004 was something unimaginable – I wasn’t there but saw most on TV. Four years after the tsunami, I set foot in Phuket’s beaches – Nai Harn, Kata, Karon, Patong. Imagine walking on these beautiful beaches… There were already new establishments that replaced the old ones that was destroyed by the tsunami. It felt odd. I couldn’t help it but my mind was racing thinking about hundreds and thousands of people that drowned and died under water. You couldn’t help it because the signs of devastation were still around…

Anyways, I wonder if this sign was put up before the tsunami hit, or after.

signs tsunami evacuation route sign